In a still-cresting pandemic, in an epidemic by far the worst in the world, the White House releases opposition research — the kind of portfolio you compile to undermine a political opponent — on its own chief scientist. https://t.co/WK6MIIaxCo
— Maryn McKenna (@marynmck) July 12, 2020
If they want to fire or undermine Fauci they should do it in broad daylight and explain why. And if the media must cover this they should not give anonymity to powerful officials to help them do their dirty work.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) July 12, 2020
The rush to smear Dr. Fauci was never really about Dr. Fauci; it was a public exercise to demonstrate exactly how loyal each and every little minion was to Dear Leader…
The White House's efforts to disparage Fauci's credibility is less about Fauci himself than about Trump's desire to build a miasma of uncertainty around the pandemic which obscures where his administration has failed.https://t.co/2i2DeRTFFu
— Philip Bump (@pbump) July 14, 2020
… And it worked as well as these publicity stunts usually do, in our ‘Everything Trump Touches Dies’ era. From today’s NYTimes, “Fauci Back at the White House, a Day After Trump Aides Tried to Undermine Him”:
… The visit underscored a reality for both men: They are stuck with each other.
Dr. Fauci — who has not had direct contact with the president in more than five weeks even as the number of Americans with Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has risen sharply in the Southwest — slipped back into the West Wing to meet with Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, while his allies denounced what they called a meanspirited and misguided effort by the White House to smear him.
White House officials declined to comment on what was discussed in the conversation between Mr. Meadows, who has long expressed skepticism about the conclusions of the nation’s public health experts, and Dr. Fauci, though one official called it a good conversation and said they continued to have a positive relationship.
For his part, Mr. Trump made no effort to sugarcoat his rift with Dr. Fauci, declining to repudiate the criticism of him from his staff and saying that “I don’t always agree with him.” But the president also implicitly acknowledged how unlikely he was to get rid of Dr. Fauci, calling him “a very nice person” and saying that “I like him personally.”
Mr. Trump could formally remove Dr. Fauci from the official coronavirus task force, but that would be a relatively meaningless step because it no longer serves as the nerve-center of a pandemic response that the Trump administration has pushed governors to take responsibility for.
As the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Fauci is a career civil servant. Firing him would require a finding of cause of malfeasance, and would most likely end up tied up in lengthy appeals, though the president could still seek to sideline Dr. Fauci in meaningless work, transfer him to another location or cut his budget in an attempt to get him to resign…
Dr. Fauci’s international reputation has not spared him from the White House attacks, which first appeared in The Washington Post and later in other news outlets. The criticism, which was distributed anonymously to reporters, detailed what the White House believed was a series of premature or contradictory recommendations that Dr. Fauci has made over the past several months as the virus bore down on the United States…
Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, took ownership on Monday of the opposition research-style effort, saying that her office merely “provided a direct answer to what was a direct question” from The Post about whether Dr. Fauci had made mistakes during the course of the response…
“We love Dear Leader more than your life itself.”
By early April, Dr. Fauci had received so many personal threats that he was assigned personal protection. The N.I.H. continues to turn over threats to the agency’s security force, said one official familiar with them…
…[A]s Dr. Fauci’s public assessments of the outbreak became increasingly dire, Mr. Meadows and several press officials he brought to the White House began to tighten the access television reporters had to him, ignoring or blocking requests routed to them from the N.I.H…
The White House’s attempts to discredit Dr. Fauci raised alarm on Monday among health experts who have long known him as public health’s most important ambassador…
Lately the White House stopped approving most requests for Dr. Fauci to appear on TV, believing it would help reduce the public contradictions, but continued to sign off on print interviews, including the FT one last week where he said he hadn't briefed Trump in months.
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) July 13, 2020
CNN, this afternoon — “Fauci spat illustrates what some fear is a directionless White House”:
… [W]ith a little more than 100 days until November 3, the fight with Fauci illustrated what, to many supporters of Trump, has been a disturbing pattern: ill-timed battles with little evident public support that do nothing to define the presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, articulate a rationale for another term in office or contain a pandemic that is both crippling the nation and dooming his reelection chances.
Trump has insisted to friends recently that he hasn’t really started campaigning yet. Yet some of the President’s tactics lately have been so baffling to his allies that several have openly speculated about whether he’s actively trying to lose the election….
In Fauci, White House officials targeted a well-respected health expert whom polls show is trusted by a large majority of Americans. To some degree, that public renown explains their grievances: the President has long noted with annoyance to aides that Fauci’s approval ratings are higher than his own, gripes that some aides interpreted as permission to attack the doctor publicly.
In the West Wing, Fauci has earned detractors, including trade adviser Peter Navarro, who has questioned his expertise and his willingness to advocate for recommendations that have caused the economy to stall.
By Tuesday, the sparring had become a campaign issue — for Biden.
“Mr. Trump, please listen to your public health experts instead of denigrating them,” the former vice president said during a speech in Delaware, where he has been isolating during the pandemic…
By Monday, the decision by members of the White House press office to provide a list of Fauci’s past statements to reporters and to declare, anonymously, that several officials “are concerned about the number of times Fauci has been wrong on things” was viewed widely as a mistake…
Asked on a podcast Tuesday he if he’s ever wanted to throw his hands up and walk away, Fauci said: “I think that the issue at hand is so important that I think walking away from it is not the solution. I think that would just make things worse.”…
Not gonna stop the True Believers, of course. Speaking of the worst people in the world…
The anti-Fauci stuff may just be starting.
“We are working on a memo that shows how many times Dr. Fauci’s been wrong during not just [this pandemic], but during his entire career,” Stephen Moore tells ?@swin24? and ?@ErinBanco? https://t.co/TmVyV2cHws
— Alex Thompson (@AlxThomp) July 14, 2020
Surely no leader in history has ever warned of a plot by doctors. https://t.co/oIR7PeRTJh
— Mig Greengard (@chessninja) July 13, 2020
(The original Doctors’ Plot backstory)